BANMUN 2017: Creating Bangladesh’s Ambassadors for SRHR
Bangladesh Model United Nations Conference popularly known by its short form BANMUN is the first MUN conference in Bangladesh which is dedicated to and specially customized for school and higher secondary college going students. From 2011 to 2017, United Nations Youth and Students Association of Bangladesh (UNYSAB), has organized nine sessions of BANMUN that have engaged thousands of young minds in scholarly debate on a wide range of globally significant issues. This year BANMUN 2017 was attended by 600+ students from all over the country. For four days from July 1 to July 4, these students learned and discussed about the significance of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) to ensure sustainable development.
BANMUN started its four days of activism with a festive launching ceremony. In the auditorium of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, 600 delegates from 70 institutions enriched their mind with scholarly lectures from renowned guest speakers. They learned about significance of negotiation and negotiation skill from ambassador Humanyu Kabir, about functionalities and operational procedures of United Nations (UN) from Sadia Faizunnesa, DG(UN), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, about essential interpersonal skills for job market from M Moniruzzaman, Officer-in-Charge, United Nations Information Centre about gender justice and significance of SRHR from Dr Syed Saikh Imtiaz, Chairperson, Department of Women and Gender Studies, University of Dhaka and Chairperson of the Trustee Board, UNYSAB and about the art of diplomacy in MUN from Md Mamun Mia, President of UNYSAB and Secretary General of BANMUN 2017.
After the auspicious launching ceremony, committee sessions, the main functionalities of BANMUN 2017, started. All the 600 participants were divided into 10 committees such as United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Economic and Financial Affairs Committee (ECOFIN), The Security Council, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), International Labor Organization, World Health Organization (WHO) and Special Committee on Bangladesh Affairs and International Press. Among 10 committees, agenda of the five committees were themed directly on SRHR. For instance, delegates assigned under UNESCO committee discussed on “Ensuring Comprehensive Sexual Education for All”, ILO’s agenda was “Ensuring Gender Sensitive Attitude and sexual and reproductive health knowledge for workers”, delegates under UNFPA discussed on “Ensuring minimum SRH services during disaster and humanitarian crisis”, delegates under WHO discussed on “Ensuring medical service for marginalized people” and delegates under UNHCR discussed on “Ensuring access to SRH services for the refugees and internally displaced people”.
For four days from July 1st to July 4th all the delegates went through day long sessions of debate, discussion and negotiation. At first the delegates of each committee submitted their position papers and delivered a speech based on their position papers. During and after these speeches, delegates of different countries asked questions and sought clarification from the speakers regarding their country’s stance on the agenda. The committee chairs efficiently moderated the session and ensured that every delegate got the opportunity to deliver the speech amidst question-answer sessions.
After formulation of all the working papers, the chairs invited the delegates to present and explain their working papers before the respective committees. All other delegates gave their valuable opinions to the proposals of the working papers and sometimes expressed their disagreement about the working through intriguing questions. The Chairs of all the committees intelligently managed the sessions and ensured that all the delegates got the floor to express their opinions within the limited time of the committee sessions. After vibrant discussion on the working papers, the chairs issued an un-moderated caucus so that the delegates could edit the working papers based on the proposals of the delegates and compile all the working papers of the committee into a single resolution paper which contain propositions of all the delegates of the committee. Delegates assigned as the representatives of the International Press published a rich newsletter titled “BANMUN Beats” at the end of the conference describing exciting activities of the committee sessions.
In BANMUN 2017, delegates of all the committees brilliantly formulated the draft resolution papers within very short time. The resolutions elaborately discussed diverse and inseparable relationships between ensuring SRHR and achieving sustainable development goals. The resolutions, therefore, emphasized on taking a wide range of long term and short term initiatives that will help to propagate knowledge of SRHR among global population. The resolutions further urge that every nation-state should recognize SRHR as one of the fundamental human rights in their constitution.
The conference was concluded by a grand closing and award giving ceremony which was attended by policymakers, scholars and expert professionals. Nasrul Hamid Bipu, State Minister of the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, was the chief guest of the ceremony. Kazi Ali Reza, former Officer in Charge of UNIC, Khurshid Alam Country Director in Charge of UNDP, Dr Syed Saikh Imtiaz, chairperson, Department of Women and Gender Studies, University of Dhaka and chairperson of the Trustee Board, UNYSAB and Naimu Rahman Durjoy, MP and former captain of Bangladesh National Cricket Team attended the closing ceremony. The experts and policymakers were overwhelmed by seeing the enthusiasm, knowledge and progressiveness of Bangladesh’s youths and stated that resolutions of BANMUN 2017 will be recognized as the message of Bangladesh’s young generation to the policymakers, researchers and development professionals. And, this is how BANMUN 2017 has secured an unparalleled place in the history of youth and MUN conferences in Bangladesh.